Gates Foundation Donation Fuels Women’s Philanthropy Institute

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation just awarded a $375,000 grant to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy to increase understanding about how and why women give to charity.

Bill and Melinda GatesAlthough this amount is small compared to what the Gates Foundation spends on issues like polio and Africa’s food supply, it could prove to be their most impactful gift.  Women make the lion’s share of philanthropic spending decisions.  In her book, Giving 2.0, Stanford University professor and philanthropist with a mission to make everyone more impactful givers, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen provides substantial data to prove that women drive most philanthropy. And of course, women just live longer, which means they are more likely to control substantial wealth in their estate planning.  The US Social Security Administration calculates that women live on average 2 years, 3 months longer than men. .

Our own Make It Better research proves that 92% of the women in our audience will change their brand loyalty if they think it will make the world a better place.  92%.  That’s an extraordinarily number.  We think that it proves that philanthropy is somehow innate in female DNA. And how much do you want to bet that Melinda was the first spouse to propose the Foundation to the other?Women Give 2014 Report

For the last few years the IU Women’s Philanthropy Institute have published Women Give reports that put it in the vanguard of building a body of knowledge on women’s leadership in philanthropy, and how women think about and practice their giving.  The Gates Foundation grant will build on that foundation.

Better understand how and why women give, and the world will be changed for the better even faster.  Thank you Melinda and Bill Gates.





Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Windfall Benefits All

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is receiving a windfall $3.3 billion – that’s right, $3.3 billion – on its investment of $150 million with a small biotechnology company about 15 years ago to entice the firm to research and develop drugs to help patients of this horrible inherited orphan disease.

That windfall is great news for Cystic Fibrosis patients, their families and the Foundation. Not only has the life expectancy of CF patients now doubled – from 20 to 40 years old – there is greater hope for the future, because the $3.3 billion will be reinvested to accelerate additional help for patients. Perhaps it will eventually help eradicate the disease.Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Unfortunately though, as covered by the New York Times recently, controversy and complaints swirl around the Foundation.  Some complain that it should have done more to encourage a lower cost for the drug.  Others claim that disease nonprofits never should be investors in research, but rather just donate money for academic research. But really, this type of venture philanthropy seems the most expeditious route to helping cure patients.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society Everyone should celebrate this success and encourage creation of additional “virtuous circles” that connect the people most knowledgeable about a disease and passionate to find a cure with those who can help the fastest. Experts agree. “If we want to get therapies to patients faster, we need to be partnering with the industry that actually brings those drugs to patients,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, chief executive of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Other organizations pursuing similar venture philanthropy strategies include JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), the the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and other groups involved in muscular dystrophy.

Juvenile Diabetes Research FoundationPlease stop the bickering and focus on the fastest routes forward to find cures.  Instead, please pause and be grateful to the CF Foundation for leading the way by example 15 years ago and join the families of CF patients celebrating with their loved ones.



Contribute Now to Warming Hearts and Hands in Chicago

Please join Make It Better Foundation and help give handmade or newly purchased blankets, hats, coats, gloves and scarves to more than 1,000 men, women and children this winter season.

Warming Hearts and HandsEach year around the holidays, Make It Better Foundation and its partner nonprofits give the gift of warmth to those in need. This is our 6th Annual Warming Hearts & Hands program. You can help make this winter a warm one by dropping off new gloves, scarves, hats and coats at one of the two locations listed below. Donations are accepted before December 21, 2014.

Make It Better
588 Lincoln Ave.
Winnetka, IL 60093
MondayFriday, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Volunteer Center
520 Glendale Ave.
Winnetka, IL 60093
Between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Step Up Productions
during run of show, HOLIDAZE
performed November 21 – December 21, 2014
at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago

Northbrook Park District donates knitting and Crochet to Warming Hearts and Hands

Make It Better Foundation has donated coats, blankets, hats, mittens/gloves and scarves to the following organizations:

  • Family Empowerment Centers
  • Lydia Home
  • Lake County Haven
  • Chance Ministries
  • San Jose Obrero Mission
  • Sarah’s Circle
  • Breakthrough Urban Ministries
  • Rice Children’s Home and Aid
  • Catholic Charities, Syracuse
  • Deborah’s Place
  • Housing Opportunities for Women
  • Heather’s House
  • WINGS, Inc.
  • A Safe Place
  • Mary Lou’s Place at YWCA Evanston/Northshore
  • McGaw YMCA
  • A Safe Haven Foundation
  • Lake County Haven
  • Chance Ministries
  • Breakthrough Ministries
  • San Jose Obrero Mission
    • Rice Children’s Home and Aid
    • Sarah’s Circle
    • Catholic Charities
    • Deborah’s Place
    • Connections for the Homeless
    • Family Network
    • Good News Partners
    • Mano a Mano
    • The Harbour
    • Boys Hope Girls Hope
    • Nuestro Center
    • Northbrook Park District donates knitting and Crochet to Warming Hearts and Hands

Handmade and retail items have been donated by:

  • Girl Scout Troop from St. Juliana School in Chicago
  • Northbrook Senior Center knitters group
  • Working 2gether in Highland Park and Highwood
  • Volunteer Center
  • AuPairCare North Shore
  • Pharo’s Innovations
  • Unknown Donors



Make It Better Publisher Note on our Guide to Giving


‘TIS THE TIME OF YEAR that most people’s thoughts turn to gifts for those they love— and charitable gifts for those who need extra love and support. ‘Tis the time of year we love at Make It Better, too, because we make your giving easier. Are you feeling the warmth, too?

Walgreens, our generous Guide To Giving sponsor, is adept at creating win/win oppor-tunities to help you and others, like its vaccination partnership with the United Nations Foundation and its great shopping experiences in the new zero-carbon-footprint stores. Similarly, Make It Better thrives by giving you content, connections and opportunities, which make it easy for you to help others while also helping you and your family. We publish this annual Guide To Giving to showcase this.


We’ve worked closely with every nonprofit included and highly recommend them to you. We carefully vet every Give Time, Give Things, Give Support recommendation and assure you that your gifts will be well used. We’ve proudly built a network with our “Warming Hearts & Hands” program that makes it easy for you to give the gift of new winter outerwear to people in need and feel more connected to a caring community in the process.

Just as importantly, this Guide also shares our fundraising expertise and explains how you can help your favorite nonprofit grow. Please learn more by contacting me any time.

Welcome. Enjoy. Happy giving Season!! Beautiful giving

Make It Better:  $$ RAISED FOR NOT-FOR-PROFITS : $3,653,706

Applauding Evanston’s Y.O.U. Youth Initiatives

Evanston Philanthropists Invest Millions in New Center for Youth
We are thrilled to hear about Youth Organizations Umbrella (Y.O.U.)’s received $2.5 million from Col. Jennifer N. Pritzker and the Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation in  land value and cash gifts. The funds will be used to develop a new headquarters for the Evanston youth activities. The headquarters at 1911 Church Street will offer transformative learning spaces for youth, office space for Y.O.U. staff, and exciting opportunities for collaboration among youth-serving agencies.
A few words about Y.O.U.;
Since 1971, Y.O.U. has provided services and leadership to meet the emerging needs of young people and their families. http://www.youevanston.orgEach year Y.O.U. serves over 1,000 youth and touch more than 3,000 family members through their services that include after-school enrichment, summer learning, mental health counseling, and mentorship. These services ensure youth success across all of their different environments – in school, at home, in the community, and in moments of crisis. Learn more about our impact at

Col. Pritzker is providing a gift valued at $1.5 million in support for the project, including donating the land at 1911 Church Street to Y.O.U. along with making a generous cash gift. The Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation is providing $1 million in additional financial support.

Y.O.U. EvanstonY.O.U. says its next stage of utilizing these funds will be developing plans for the building and then construction.  Y.O.U. is planning an interactive and inclusive process moving forward, including focus groups with youth and staff, collaborative meetings with community stakeholders, and observational visits to peer agencies’ youth spaces as part of its design process. Y.O.U. will also be continuing to fundraise for this project with the hope to occupy the new building by the summer of 2016.

This is fantastic news and we wish Y.O.U. the best of luck in making these funds works best for the community. Please get involved with  Y.O.U. Evanston

Ellen Stirling’s Lake Forest Shop Your Cause 2014

Social Entrepreneur Ellen Stirling Instinctively Creates Virtuous Circles – An Influential And Stylish Woman Always Ahead Of Her Times

Ellen Stirling carries on in the tradition of her trendsetting, progressive, glamorous relatives.  Her aunt married to Conde Nast and loved clothes so much that she founded the Lake Forest Shop more than 90 years ago.  Ellen runs it now. And she has always run it to do the most good she possibly can for the community that she loves. Like most smart women in business, she instinctively is a social entrepreneur.

Her annual “Shop Your Cause” is a great example of this.  The shop brings in designers sure to entice and throws a fabulous party honoring leaders at multiple nonprofits.  That night and for days after, the shop donates a % of shopping proceeds to the organizations. You can see this event and others scheduled at the shop here.

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill girls night out;  it’s a multi-day, multi-vendor, multi-NFP extravaganza!  This year Ellen even added a “Spanx Party” too.  Who could say no to Spanxing their figure while they support a cause they hold dear? The event details are:

  • October 8 Shop Your Cause Opening Night 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
  • October 8-11 SHOP YOUR CAUSE
  • October 8-10 Spanx

Ellen is the seated beauty in Make It Better orange (of course!).  She’s flanked by the honorees representing the beloved NFP’s below.Ellen Stirling with Shop Your Cause NFP Honorees


Lake Forest Symphony Mission;

The Lake Forest Symphony Guild exists to service and raise funds for the Lake Forest Symphony. Shop Your Cause money will go to the Lake Forest Symphony
the new music director” Vladimir Kulenovic 2014-15 season, which will be about growth, expansion, and commitment to artistic quality. The orchestra will present five diverse classical symphonic presentations in the months to come. Opening concerts will be held on September 6th and 7th
Honoree: Mathilda Williams
Mission; The Deer Path Art League strives to spark, nurture, and enhance creativity as well as raise awareness and appreciation for arts in the community.
Lake Forest Preservation Foundation Mission; Lake Forest Preservation Foundation’s mission is to protect the visual character of Lake Forest through a shared commitment to inspire the appreciation of and respect for our vast historic resources.The money raised from Shop Your Cause will be used to educate, advocate and fund the preservation of the city’s historic visual character.Honoree:  Maureen Grinnell

Adeline Morrison

Adeline Morrison, Honoree for Lake County Community Foundation – Shop Your Cause

Ragdale Radale is a nonprofit artists community located on Architect Howard Van Doren Shaw’s country estate in Lake Forest,Il.
Lake Forest Open Lands Mission; Lake Forest Open Lands Association is dedicated to conserving our natural environment through land acquisition, habitat restoration, environmental education and conservation advocacy.
2014 honorees—Shawn Gore, Kristin McCain and Kristin Ryan
Eco Myths Alliance Mission; EcoMyths uses humor to teach young people about the environment and empower them to live in eco-friendly ways. EcoMyths’ environmental myth-busting articles, cartoons, videos, and radio shows present easy to understand science with wit and without guilt. Their vision is to help make eco-friendly living mainstream and easy.
Honoree: Ellen Stirling
Mission; Bernie’s Book Bank is a non-profit organization that collects, processes and distributes quality new and used children’s books to significantly increase BOOK OWNERSHIP among at-risk infants, toddlers and school-age children throughout Chicagoland.
Mission; Since 2003, The Lake County Community Foundation, an affiliate of The Chicago Community Trust, has partnered with donors to leverage and guide their philanthropy to help transform the lives of the most vulnerable people across our county. Together, we have contributed over $2.5 million to 80 nonprofit organizations that support basic human needs, community development, education and health throughout Lake County.
Honoree names – Mrs. Addie Morrison
Citadel Theatre
Mission; Citadel Theatre is committed to producing powerful works of insight and complexity that illuminate the challenges and joys of the human experience. Dedicated to maintaining the highest standard of professionalism, Citadel seeks to provide both a creative haven for passionate, visionary directors, writers, actors and designers and a home for an audience that seeks to experience the emotional and intellectual richness that the best theatre inspires.

The Crushers Club: Chicagoan Sally Hazelgrove’s Mission

Sally Hazelgrove at Crushers ClubMy new hero is Sally Hazelgrove.
This petite determined woman founded “Crushers Club” in one of the most terrifying neighborhoods in the country – Englewood in Chicago. Gang banging and shootings abound; opportunities to escape that lifestyle don’t.

Hazelgrove grew up in Naperville.  She started reading and thinking about the teens being shot in Englewood long ago. Soon she was volunteering and later working in the juvenile protection system there.Sally Hazelgrove and Me

Five years ago she moved her family of three kids – now ages 10, 11 and 16 – to Englewood and started asking the young males loitering on street corners what activity would motivate them to try harder in school and help them see a future beyond Englewood.  Their answer – boxing.  They promised to change bad attitudes and get better grades in exchange for leaving school 20 minutes early to learn to box.

Hazelgrove single handedly obtained a grant for funding and a 12,000 square foot space in a local church to launch “Crushers Club.” Its’ mission is to be the strongest alternative to gangs. and it uses  four ideals—respect, discipline, ownership, and love—to give its members a fighting chance.

The program quickly grew to include activities beyond boxing – including a cobbled together recording studio, because Hazelgrove told a talented musician that “I’ll build a recording studio if you give up your gun and gang banging.” Spaces also exist for homework help, “quiet talk” (similar to one of one counseling), dancing, poetry, art and more.

The model works and others are noticing, including recent coverage on Crusher’s Club reveals the tremendous details. Sally was also honored at the Women in the World Summit this year in New York City. This compelling video at The Acres shows the determination, as well. Please watch it.
Crusher's Club Chicago
A vivid reminder of the perils in the neighborhood greets Crushers Club visitors – this sign which keeps track of the shootings each month:

Hazelgrove’s goal: Train kids 8 – 18 to be the leaders who transform the lives of the younger kids in the community.Crusher Club cost per person: $3500 per person

Taxpayer Cost per person for incarceration: $27,500+ per year

The data is compelling. This model needs to grow.

I met a wonderful young man who is an example of Crushers Club’s good work – Tyvon Jones.

Crusher's Club Sally Hazelgrove and participant TyvonJones is shy, sensitive, musical and shell shocked.  Friends who lived on both sides of his home have been murdered.  He composes music to try to help heal himself and others from all of this violence.  He desperately wants a “good job” away from Englewood.  He thinks he just landed one as a server at a banquet hall in Chicago, but he needs the right attire – shoes, belt and clean, white shirt.

And please do all you can to spread the good news about Crushers Club and help my new hero Sally Hazelgrove.
Thank you.
Our mission is to restore the path of youth engaging in negative behavior due to gang affiliation and activity by providing boxing, mentoring, spiritual development, intern opportunities and love.
 Video on Acres; and Englewood video

Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone Sets Example

@Geoffrey Canada, HGSE graduate and Founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, presents a most compelling venture philanthropy case. It only costs $5000 per year per child for the Zone to insure that every child living within its 100 block radius to get a good education from birth through college.

The goal at Harlem Children’s Zone is simple;

“to give our kids the individualized support they need to get to and through college and become productive, self-sustaining adults. Realizing this goal is difficult and complex, particularly since we are working with over 12,000 youth, many of them with tough challenges.”Harlem Children's Zone

Geoffrey CanadaOnly $5000.

It costs New York City $167,000 per person per year to incarcerate a similar number of young adults. That’s right, society’s paying a whopping $162,000 per year more per person!
We can’t afford NOT to educate well every child in our country much longer! See the Fortune article on Geoffrey, naming him one of the 50 greatest leaders. 

Join the crusade! Look at the Practitioners Institute, with best practices and pivotal guidance to groups from across the U.S. and around the world invested in replicating this model.

Part 8; MIB Supported TOP AUCTION Fundraisers


Lyric Opera of Chicago Wine Auction (2/7/15)Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago will again celebrate grand opera, fine wine and philanthropy to raise funds during the unforgettably glamorous Wine Auction 2015. This elaborate event will take place on Saturday, February 7, 2015 on the stage of the Ardis Krainik Theatre. Wine Auction 2012 netted a record breaking $1.7 million in support of the Lyric Opera and was recognized in April 2013 by Wine Spectator as one of the “Top Ten Charity Wine Auctions of 2012.”

Writers Theatre WordPlay Gala & Auction (4/2015)Goodman Theatre Fame, Fantasy, Food and Adventure Auction (2/2015)  Writers Theatre in glencoeThis years adventure in Fame, Fantasy and Food Adventure Auction takes place at the Peninsula promises to be unforgettable.

And a few more to consider;

Writers Theatre WordPlay Gala & Auction (4/2015)

Cubs Charities Bricks and Ivy Ball (4/2015) Cubs Charities and Cubs Care, a fund of the McCormick Foundation, have donated a total of more than $23 million to Chicago area non-profits since 1991.We support them and hope you will too by attending the amazing event.

Bears Care (6/2015) Another great organization supporting the Chicago communities in need.

American Cancer Society Discovery Ball (4/2015) Take a look at a few of the videos from last years event. It’s a great cause and an amazing organization to be part ot.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater Gala Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (6/2015)



If you missed my other Blog posts highlighting more MIB supported fundraisers by category, please click on links below.

Part 7; Top MIB Fundraiser Events in Art, Antiques and Home Decor in Chicago

Part 6; Top MIB Supported Fundraiser Galas

Part 5; Top MIB Supported Fundraisers for Families

Part 4; MIB Supported Fundraisers for Fashionistas 

Part 5; MIB Supported Fundraisers for Families

Why not get the entire family involved while helping to support a great cause. Here are some of our favorite fundraiser events FOR FAMILIES:

1.  Chicago Botanic Garden HallowFest (10/25-26/14)

Chicago Botanic Garden Hallow FestIt’s always fun to bring the kids to the festivities at Chicago Botanic Garden’s HallowFest. Register now.

2. Field Museum Women’s Board Children’s Holiday Celebration (12/2014)

The Women’s Board is an amazing group of nearly 300 of Chicago’s most active and civic-minded citizens that share an interest in promoting awareness of The Field Museum’s exhibitions, collections, research and public programs. This family event is a holiday favorite.

3. Lyric Opera’s The Magic Victrola (1/17/15)Chicago Lyric Opera's Magic Victrola

This is a family-friendly introduction to opera and always a pleasure to attend.

4. Joffrey Ballets The Nutcracker Opening Night (12/5/14)This is a Chicago Tradition with with Tchaikovsky’s glorious score played live by The Chicago Philharmonic.

5. Kohl Children’s Museum Touch A Truck Family Festival (5/2015)

Forget ordering the fire truck to drive up to your house; here at the Touch a Truck event, children can get a close up look at the real things! Climb aboard many super-sized vehicles in a safe, protected environment.

Please also take a look at the other Blog posts to find more MIB supported fundraisers by category.

Part 5; Fundraisers for Families

Part 4; MIB Supported Fundraisers for Fashionistas